Venture Travel is an independent online travel agency based in Mold, North Wales. We provide customer service only found in store with prices only found online. Since launching, at the end of 2017, this unique blend has led to Venture Travel winning numerous awards including Travel Weekly’s Ones to Watch 2019 and Global Travel Group’s best newcomer 2018. The business is the idea of Ben Owen (27) and Hugh Bourne (25) who are the first ever company directors to both make the TTG 30 under 30 which recognises the best up and coming entrepreneurs in travel.
Meet The Team
School friends Ben Owen, 27 (left), and Hugh Bourne (Right), 25, direct messaged thousands of celebrities to get their online travel agency off the ground. When they started they couldn’t afford the heating. 2 years on, they are hitting revenue of more than £1.4 million. Juliet Dennis reports
Q. When did you first want to be entrepreneurs?
A. At school business was always something we both had a passion for. We used to undersell the school tuck shop. We sold chocolates and drinks in the playground. We were always going to set up a business together, we just didn’t know what it would be.
Q. Do you have a background in travel?
A. Yes, Hugh worked for Hays Travel. He was assistant manager of the local branch within two years and worked in the company for 3 years which was a great place to gain knowledge and experience in travel. I (Ben) worked for a travel company in their marketing team helping promote the brand on social media and at events.
Q. How did you get business off the ground?
A. We started Venture Travel on October 8, 2017, as a Global Travel Group member. We saved for a year and a half. The ATOL licence alone was £20,000 and we spent pretty much every penny we had on that. We didn’t have a logo, website or money for marketing.
We used our network of friends to help us, one of whom designed a logo and another helped with our accounts. We sent over 30,000 direct messages to influencers, from footballers to reality TV stars, Olympians and actors. We got 5,000 responses. We offered holidays at the lowest prices in return for a social media post to grow our exposure. That got business off the ground and from there we reinvested the money to continue the growth.
Q. You started the business in Ben’s family garage – what was that like?
A. Cold! We couldn’t afford the heating for the first 6 months so we came to work in gloves, hats and scarves. I suppose many of the great businesses have started in garages so hopefully we can emulate them.
Q. How is business now?
A. In January 2018 the business really took off. We now spend all our marketing budget on social media. It generates 100s of bookings a month. Less than 5% of sales come from celebrities but we have booked everyone from Premier League players to reality TV stars.
We have expanded our team to have a homeworker and part time sales member to help keep up with demand and we are really proud of the amount of customers that return to us year on year.
Q. What’s it like working with one of your oldest friends?
A. We get on really well! We have no real arguments and we’re on the same page. We push each other to continually get better and make sure we provide the very best service for our customers.